Posts Tagged ‘Dime Stories’

Big Boys

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Big Boys is the title of a story that won “Best of Dime Stories” recognition at a recent San Diego Dime Stories reading – an open mic event at which authors present three-minute prose. Big Boys is a touching Big-Guy-Little-Guy story that closes with a provoking quote. Don Ryan is a painter as well. Visit him at Facebook to view some of his work.


by Don Ryan

Little boys know there are bigger boys. And that they are not a bigger boy. They are not as fast. They are not as strong. They must be deferential. Or assertive at their peril. That in time they will become bigger boys does not compensate. Even if they get bigger, the bigger boys will also get bigger and the little boys will just be bigger little boys.

We would meet on a grassless lot, strewn with pebbles and glass. A sand-lot. Our uniforms were our after-school street clothes. The game was football, tackle football. No two-hand touch, no flags to grab. The players were a mix of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders.  Two captains were selected by vote-less affirmation.  They threw fingers, odds or evens, for first choice. The order of selection was usually an accurate reflection of how you could play.  Little guys were picked last. I was a little guy.

Plays were scratched in the dirt of the sandlot.  I never got an assignment to run with the ball, or to go out for a pass. I might be told as an afterthought: You stay in and block. I guess our quarterback got tired of repeating himself, telling me to stay in and block, so he told me to go deep for a pass. Of course the other team ignored me and I was five yards in back of the defenders when I looked around. Our quarterback was scrambling and couldn’t find anyone open to pass to. Except me.

What the hell, better an incomplete pass than a loss behind the line of scrimmage. So he let go with a heave of desperation in my direction.

The ball floated in the air like a Goodyear Blimp with laces. It slowed as it rose to its apogee, then accelerated as it arched down at me below. Never had I seen such a majestic flight, then or since. To my own disbelief, my arms cradled it in. I turned and raced to the goal line.

The defense was incredulous and outraged, stomping their feet, pointing their fingers and yelling at each other, and smacking their heads in disgust. I don’t remember how my team reacted. I do remember that after that when sides were picked, I was chosen sooner. And more passes came my way.

So what? There are more ways of becoming a big boy than having birthdays. Was an event that happened to an eight-year-old, so long ago, important? Someone has said:

Greatness, however brief,

Stays with one 


Indeed. Decades later, I am still telling the story.


Dime Stories is a Meetup Group that learns or shares something They meet on the second Friday of every month at 7:30 p.m. at San Diego Writer’s Ink at NTC at Liberty Station, 2730 Decatur Blvd., Barrack 16, Suite 204, San Diego, CA 92106.


For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.